Beauden Barrett Rugby: How surprise English signing Joe Marchant will boost the Blues

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By Alex Shaw for

On a day to forget for Harlequins fans, as their side fell to a 19-14 loss at home to Worcester Warriors, the club was making news in other ways, as they inked standout centre Joe Marchant to a three-year contract extension, as well as facilitating him a loan to the Blues in Super Rugby.

The move, which has no real precedent in the professional era of English rugby, will see Marchant spend six months with the Auckland-based franchise, and comes 19 months after Quins and New Zealand Rugby (NZR) entered into a co-operation agreement.

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It had been presumed the partnership would see players move from New Zealand to south-west London on sabbatical, not the other way around.

Marchant will head out to Auckland for January 1st and stay with the franchise until June 30th, meaning he will miss the second half of the Gallagher Premiership season, as well as the opportunity to break into the England team for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations.

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With Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph injured at the time, Marchant featured in three of England’s four Rugby World Cup warm-up Tests earlier this year, impressing and grabbing his debut international try in his first start against Italy.

Although the trio of Slade, Joseph and Manu Tuilagi are all currently fit, their workload is expected to be managed this season and it would not have been surprising to see Marchant involved come the Six Nations, making this temporary move to New Zealand a bold one.

The centre has plenty to gain, as do the Blues, though it opens a door to promising centres such as Ollie Lawrence and Fraser Dingwall.

Speaking on the announcement of the centre’s sabbatical, Harlequins Head of Rugby Paul Gustard was enthusiastic on the move.

“We pride ourselves at the club at t

These constituents are quite magnificent.

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